For Lennie, rabbits represent an escape from the obstacles he faces as a mentally-disabled man. While George fantasizes of his and Lennie’s future farm as an alternate reality where he can be free, independent, and beholden to nobody, Lennie’s major fantasy about the farm is that it will be a place where he can tend and raise rabbits. Due to his unspecified mental disability, Lennie has long had a preoccupation with touching and stroking soft things—a fixation which, due to the overuse his great physical strength, has killed the animals he’s pet and gotten him in trouble time and time again. But when Lennie dreams of raising rabbits, the fantasy is that he will be able to indulge in his greatest pleasure without doing the objects of his affection any harm, or bringing any upon himself. However, Lennie is never able to realize this dream, as he accidentally kills Curley’s wife after stroking her hair too forcefully, and is then mercifully shot to death by George to escape the wrath of the other laborers. Rabbits, then, are a symbol of the hope for freedom—both from society’s expectations, and from one’s own personal limitations. The fact that Lennie never gets his rabbits, however, darkly implies that those who are marginalized or disabled can never truly be free of the difficulties and judgment they face, and that these limitations are often impossible to overcome.
Rabbits Quotes in Of Mice and Men
“I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would.”